Adjusting to Life with a Baby

It’s now been almost three months since we welcomed Ryder James into the world, and I think I am finally starting to get the hang of this mom thing. I’m finally starting to come out of this newborn fog that I’ve been living in and start to feel like myself again. Although “feeling like myself” is a relative term. Our life is different now, but we’re still us. And now that we’re finding ways to still be us with a baby things are going a whole lot better.

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My transition into motherhood was harder for me than most. Or perhaps it’s just as hard for others but they just don’t talk about it? All I know is the first six weeks of Ryder’s life was rough. Miserable really. I knew it would be hard, but I was not remotely prepared for just how hard and emotional and draining it would be.

It’s not like this for everyone. Some people have super easy babies that sleep all day and chill out when they are awake. This was not our baby. Our baby liked to scream. Constantly. If he was awake, he was screaming at the top of his lungs. And I don’t mean a little whimper…. I mean a deep dark horrendous cry in which his face turned bright purple and I truly worried that our neighbors would call child protection services on us. He slept in one hour increments and then would spend the next hour inconsolably crying. My anxiety has always been directly related to sleep, and when you’re averaging four hours of sleep a day and your time awake is spent trying unsuccessfully to calm a shrieking baby you really start to lose your mind after a few weeks. I have never known exhaustion like that in my life. Every night was like preparing for war.

People would ask us, “isn’t it just the most amazing time?” and they would be upset or seem uncomfortable when we would reply “actually no, it’s horrible.” When Kevin returned to work and people asked him if he enjoyed his paternity leave, he told them that he enjoyed it like a root canal. Something that was necessary but horribly unpleasant. I once read that having an easy newborn is challenging, but having a difficult newborn can be soul destroying. And that’s how I felt… I felt like my soul was being destroyed. I felt like I was never going to be “me” again and that my life was just never going to be as good as it used to be, which is a really terrible way to feel.

Another shitty thing that a lot of people don’t like to talk about is that when you have a difficult and colicky baby, you might not bond right away. I didn’t feel that instant connection that so many people talk about, where rays of love just shoot from your eyes whenever you think of your child. I loved him – fiercely and deeply – but I wasn’t in love with him yet. And that was really hard. It’s hard because not only does it suck feeling that way, you’re ashamed you feel that way. It makes you feel like a shitty mom and a horrible person. And it makes you sad. Really really sad.

But right around six weeks something started to switch, and by eight weeks Ryder went from screaming constantly to smiling. He started sleeping more. He started laughing. He started becoming more than this little crying blob and became an adorable tiny person that would smile and giggle and recognize you.

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And now at three months? He’s awesome. I am completely and utterly obsessed with my little guy and I fall more and more in love with him every single day. I now get it when people say that they want to eat their babies because I just want to gobble him up. I spend hours daily trying not to devour his scrumptious cheeks or eat his little feet.

He smiles at me and my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces and I just melt. I could not love him more if I tried.

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I am so happy and relieved I now feel this way, because I was so worried I wasn’t going to get there. Now that I’m on the other side I feel comfortable talking about it, but when you’re going through it, it’s hard. You don’t want to admit that you feel that way. That having a child could be anything less than amazing.

But I think not talking about it makes it worse. It makes you feel even more alone. And while eight weeks in the grand scheme of life isn’t much, when you’re in the middle of it it feels like an eternity. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t know how you’re going to last even one more day.

But you do. And it gets better.

And suddenly, it’s not just better. It’s awesome.

People often ask me if I can imagine my life without him, and I can. Of course I can. He’s only been in my life for three months out of my 32 years and I had a blast a lot of those years. I miss sleeping in and staying out past 7 pm and having free time and spontaneously meeting up with friends. I do. But now that he’s here, I don’t want to go back to life without him. Even with the sacrifices, my life is better with him in it.

smile

It’s hard, but Kevin and I are still us. It took us awhile to get there, but we did. It now takes a bit more planning and it’s not as easy, but we still do the same things we used to do.

We still go wine tasting in Sonoma.

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We still go to happy hour.

happyhour

We just do it with a baby.

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Patty McClainJune 26, 2015 - 7:46 am

Yay!! So happy for you!!

ritaJune 26, 2015 - 8:09 am

i love you for being so open and sharing this. and i’m so glad you are settling in to a routine and the little dude has started getting some sleep!

xxR

JeanJune 26, 2015 - 10:15 am

This is a beautiful, honest and thoughtful post. I’m glad you shared it. You are a wonderful friend and wife and mom and daughter and writer. You are Serena.

Rich KrawczykJune 26, 2015 - 1:43 pm

Parenthood is the ultimate Quantum Entanglement! It gets better! It gets worse! Prediction is meaningless. Celebrate it either way – there is always more wine or in my case whiskey! I enjoy your posts. I’m happy I know both you and Kevin and hope to meet Ryder James someday soon!

Sue donohueJune 26, 2015 - 4:44 pm

What a description of your first three months. I’m glad it’s over and you are enjoying Ryder like you hoped to. He has a great smile and it sounds like Life Is Good !

ChelseaJune 27, 2015 - 8:03 pm

I love your honesty! Being a parent is hard, and a lot of people sugar coat it. I hope he only continues to get sweeter!

AngieJune 27, 2015 - 9:12 pm

I really appreciate your honesty in this post! Congratulations!

Jessica NJune 28, 2015 - 2:07 pm

So on point! I feel ya. My guy was super hard at first. I swear after 4 months it gets even better! And then 6 months even even better! Damn, I can’t believe my little guy is almost a year. You got this mama. The more sleep you slowly get the more you won’t feel like you are losing your mind.

Lisa BJune 28, 2015 - 8:16 pm

What a wonderfully honest post! I’m so glad things have gotten better and easier for you guys. There is seriously nothing worse than a baby who won’t stop crying and you can’t figure out what to do to calm them down. Your little man is ADORABLE! <3

nancyJuly 6, 2015 - 9:52 am

Hi there fellow new mommy!
I wrote a similar post about the first weeks with baby Brandon. While it doesn’t sound like my experience with crying has been like yours…it has been a different challenge. We couldn’t put him down for any stretch of sleep unless we held him and he was lying on us. He would scream right after a feed. And I was just about exhausted and basically crying at how “bad” of a mother I felt since my experience didn’t sound at all like how other people described it. I’m still getting through a lot of it, too. So I’m so reassured to read your post and feel relief that yes, there are moms out there who face a difficult newborn experience and that it’s quite common. Not everyone talks about it perhaps (or maybe they really have angelic babies). But thanks for sharing your experience.

xo,
nancy

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